First Swedish Baptist (Temple Baptist)

First Swedish Baptist Church, aka Temple Baptist, photographed ca. 1940 by Hugh McKenzie. [Image: UMD Martin Library]

2202 W. Third St. | Architect: Austin Terrberry | Built: 1910 | Extant

At least a half-dozen Baptist churches organized in Duluth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1884, two of them emerged in the city’s West End: the Swedish-speaking First Swedish Baptist Church of Duluth and the English-speaking Baptist Church of Rice’s Point (Most of the West End was originally part of the Town of Rice’s Point.) The English speakers quickly changed their name to Second Baptist Church of Duluth and constructed a modest building at 2001 West First Street. The Swedish Baptist congregation, which numbered just 14 people including Pastor E. Halvorson, used the Second Baptist facilities until building themselves a wooden church a block east at 1831 West First Street in 1887. By then the congregation had increased to 92, with an average Sunday attendance of nearly 200. Membership reached 290 in 1909.

That year the congregation purchased the southwest lot at the corner of Twenty-Second Avenue West and Third Street for a new church, hiring local architect Austin Terryberry to design it. The cornerstone, laid in March 1910, is a highly polished block of St. Cloud marble donated by West End stonecutter Charles Benson, Five hundred people watched contractor Andrew Bergstrom set the stone in place.

Terryberry chose a Classical Revival design, with the building shaped in the form of a Greek cross when looked upon from above, a large cupola-like dome rising from the center. The building sits on a foundation of brownstone block quarried at Fond du Lac and is faced with tan brick trimmed with limestone. The pediment of the building’s grand entrance portico along Third Street is supported by five Doric columns made of wood instead of stone—likely a cost-saving measure. Many of the window and doorways are crowned by pedimental hoods.

In the 1920s First Swedish Baptist began offering more services in English than in Swedish, and in 1936 the congregation changed its name to Temple Baptist. Swedish services ended three years later. In 1961 the congregation merged with Central Baptist, which had evolved from the same Second Baptist Church that provided the early congregation with a place to pray. The combined congregation changed its name again in 1999, becoming the Lincoln Park Community Church, welcoming all Christians while maintaining its Baptist roots. Neither of the churches built in the 1880s still stand in Duluth, and the city has no records of their demolition.